Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Freedom Day Spirit Is An Everyday Event

ART FOR FREEDOM: Artists from around southern California collaborated on a mural during The Freedom Day, One Voice, One Act to End Slavery gathering at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa Sunday. The 8 ft. by 32 ft. mural will be auctioned off with proceeds going towards battling slavery issues. Image Credit: JEBB HARRIS, THE REGISTER

Freedom Day Spirit Is An Everyday Event

Last Sunday (March 25th) was the first of a worldwide recognition event, Freedom Day, to bring attention to the persistent and vexing problem of Humans capturing and selling Humans into efforts that include labor, sex, and even war.

200 years ago on March 25th, the politicians’ of Great Britain, led through the Christian principle based efforts of William Wilberforce, voted to abolish its effort to support and participation in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The major efforts that led to this historic moment in time were dramatically portrayed in the recent film release – Amazing Grace.

The modern day efforts of slavery - Human Trafficking – need to stop and the only way to start the effort to reduce and bring an end to this business enterprise (one that generates more dollars and cents than Microsoft Corporation) is through awareness. One day a year is a start, but the spirit of Freedom Day needs to become an everyday event for this practice to end.

In Southern California, Freedom Day was a success.

HELPING HANDS: Mike Hartnov crochets a garment as his group Krochet Kids International demonstrated their project at the Sunday gathering. The nonprofit was founded by a group of young men who crochet and will be going to Uganda in May to teach women to crochet caps and other items which will be imported here for sale. Image Credit: JEBB HARRIS, THE REGISTER

This from the Orange County Register -

Program seeks help in fighting human trafficking
Freedom Day gathered supporters for modern-day abolitionist movement.
By SUSHMA SUBRAMANIAN - The Orange County Register - Sunday, March 25, 2007

COSTA MESA - One of the highest-profile human trafficking cases in Orange County would have never been discovered if it weren't for a neighbor.

A woman in Irvine called authorities when she noticed that a young girl who lived next door never went to school.

The neighbors, former Irvine couple Abdelnasser Eid Youssef Ibrahim and Amal Ahmed Ewis-abd Motelib, admitted in June to forcing a 10-year-old Egyptian girl to work as their domestic servant.

Westminster police Lt. Derek Marsh, a co-director on the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force, told that story to about 40 people during a workshop at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa Sunday, part of Freedom Day, organized by nonprofits to educate residents about human trafficking.

"I don't see human trafficking driving down the street in a patrol car," Marsh said. "It's not one of those things that are public to check on."

He encouraged audience members to help fight human trafficking by looking for clues in their neighborhoods – people who seem like fish out of water for reasons that might include living with many other people who don't seem to be related or because they get bused to work.

More than 1,000 people attended Sunday's event, which included workshops on different aspects of human trafficking, films, lectures, art booths and music supporting modern-day abolitionist movements.

"When drugs are trafficked, they can be sold just once," presenter Tobi Aclaro said.

"A person can be sold over and over again."

WELCOMING FREEDOM DAY: To kick off the Freedom Day event, organizers asked the more than 1000 people in attendance to put a hand on one another's shoulder and look at them for 30 seconds in silence. The gesture, meant to welcome the dignity and humanity of others, was the starting point for activities to promote awareness of modern day slavery. Image Credit: JEBB HARRIS, THE REGISTER

At the event's opening, people were asked to touch someone standing next to them on the shoulder and to look that person in the face for 30 seconds, an exercise encouraging people to see humanity in others.

"Imagine the change we would welcome if we began to see the worth and dignity of every human being," said Ruthi Hoffman-Hanchett, one of the event organizers.

Nonprofit groups sold bags, hats and jewelry that would benefit human trafficking victims.

Workshop topics included human trafficking related to global poverty, migrant laborers and child pornography.

According to the U.S. Department of State, approximately 600,000 to 800,000 victims are trafficked across international borders worldwide each year. About 14,500 to 17,500 of those victims are brought each year into the United States for forced labor or commercial sex.

"Before today, I didn't even know that this existed," said Tim Zarza, 27, who lives in San Diego. "It's become an industry and it's some people's way of living. And it's terrible."

A Burmese woman who was sold into prostitution in Thailand by her mother when she was 12 told her story. She escaped with the help of missionaries and now is married with two children.

"I have encountered so many problems in my life," said Moon, who gave only her first name. "I'm so thankful for what God has done for me."
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